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New BRI ocean cargo route rides wave of success

Copyfrom:China DailyPost Time:2018-10-17 09:15:05

More goods are being transported to Europe, thanks to the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and dedicated rail networks. Jiang Chenglong reports from Valencia, Spain. 

In early September, Pedro Pastor Martinez and his wife were selecting toys and baseball caps for their young grandson at a large department store. They looked the caps over and occasionally tried them on as Chinese pop songs played in the background. 

The store in Valencia, Spain's third-largest city, is called Hiper Number One, and the manager and sales assistants are all Chinese. "We love the goods here because the prices are low but the quality is high," Martinez said. 

A number of young parents and their children were also in the store, choosing notepads for the upcoming back-to-school season. They probably didn't realize that the notepads were made in China and transported thousands of kilometers on giant container ships. 

"Our store has thousands of different kinds of goods, most of them made in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, in East China," said Lu Xiao, manager of the 3,000-square-meter outlet. 

Yiwu, which likes to be known as "the world of commodities", has several large trade centers that operate under the name of Yiwu International Trade City. The complex is home to more than 70,000 stores selling a wide range of goods across the world, including clothing, shoes, hardware and building materials. 

Ancient and modern

In 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, comprising the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, with the aim of promoting business and cultural exchanges between China and trading partners, old and new. 

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is based on an ancient sea route developed by renowned Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) admiral Zheng He, which ran from China to Europe via the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. 

During the past five years, many Chinese-made commodities, including goods made in Yiwu, have been sent to countries in East and South Asia, West Africa and Europe along the new route, offering consumers a wider range of choices. 

After reaching Valencia Port by sea, the commodities are collected and sorted by an agency before being transported to local wholesalers and stores such as Hiper Number One. 

Yimi Store Group Corp is a leading Chinese retail agency in Spain, and its chairman, Dong Leran, has worked in the country for 13 years. "On average, two TEUs (Twenty-foot equivalent unit containers, the industry standard) of commodities from Yiwu are sent from Valencia to our warehouses every day," the 37-year-old said. "We have eight warehouses in Spain, housing more than 10,000 types of goods." 

Early last month, two TEUs destined for Dong's company arrived in Valencia, carried by MV Cosco Netherlands, a giant container ship with a capacity of 13,000 TEUs. 

The commodities are not only supplied to large stores such as Hiper Number One, but also to about 5,000 Chinese-run stores of various sizes across the country and well-known Western retailers, such as Walmart and Carrefour.


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